Tag Archives: nyc elections

Primary guide: City Council District 24

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the candidates in City Council District 24 (Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Hillcrest Estates, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park), who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: Rory Lancman

Party: Democrat, Working Families

Current Occupation: Attorney

Personal Info: Prior to being elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006, Rory Lancman served on Community Board 8 for 16 years. For five years, he chaired the Queens Hospital Center Community Advisory Board, during which time he led the community’s successful fight to rebuild the hospital and stop its privatization. In the Assembly, Lancman chaired the Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, and his legislative agenda in the Assembly focused on issues related to workplace safety, homeland security, public safety and government reform.

Issues/Platforms: The city faces enormous challenges in keeping the American Dream alive here in New York.  Residents confront a rising cost of living and a hollowed out job market that leaves regular New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet, a hit-or-miss education system that leaves too many kids unprepared for college and the 21st century workplace, and an across-the-board increase in crime after two decades of falling rates.  After six years in the State Assembly, and 16 years on the local community board before that, passing important legislation and delivering for constituents, Lancman can help meet these challenges.

Name: Andrea Veras

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Legal support staff at The Legal Aid Society

Personal Info: Andrea Veras arrived in the U.S. in 1990, and raised and educated three children as a single parent.  After her children became independent, she followed her lifelong passion for social justice and became a paralegal in 2004. Last year, she received a Master’s Degree in Urban Affairs.

As a grassroots community organizer, she has already made an impact in her community and has a proven record of producing results. Since 2010, she has brought the issues of public safety and environment to the forefront. As a direct result of her involvement, the 107th Precinct increased patrols in the neighborhood. In 2012, Veras was awarded with the John and Yolka Linakis Scholarship for Outstanding Community Service.

Platforms/Issues: Veras would fight for higher wages and work to find community-based solutions to health care needs.  On education issues, she supports emphasis on increased parental involvement, the expansion of Pre-K services and will motivate high school students to learn different trades. She will work to foster economic development through the expansion of tax credits to businesses and the creation of job opportunities.  On affordable housing, she is committed to fight for rent regulations and create incentives to first-time home owners.




Primary guide: City Council District 19

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the candidates in City Council District 19 (College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck), who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: John Duane

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Father, consumer advocate, attorney

Personal Info: John Duane was born and raised in northeast Queens, where he also raised his three children and has lived his whole life. He knows better than anyone the issues facing the community. As a state assemblymember, Duane wrote 22 bills that became law, including the Vietnam Veterans Tuition Assistance Law. As an assistant attorney general, he took on ConEd and won $30 million in refunds for taxpayers. In his law practice, Duane fights deceptive credit counselors and has won $250 million in judgments for victims of fraud.

Issues/Platforms: Duane knows that a government cannot function properly without the trust and involvement of its citizenry. He will be a full-time city councilmember and has proposed a comprehensive “Integrity Plan” to regain public trust that includes full-transparency and creating a discretionary spending oversight board. Duane’s other priorities include fighting overdevelopment and keeping small businesses thriving by not letting the city target them unfairly as a source of revenue. Duane will use his office to improve public education and increase parental involvement in our schools. He has also made providing services to our seniors and veterans a top priority.

Name: Paul Graziano

Party:  Democrat

Current Occupation:  Urban planning/historic preservation consultant

Personal Info: Graziano, 42, is a lifelong resident of North Flushing and the son of two CUNY professors. Educated at P.S. 21, I.S. 227, Bronx H.S.  of Science, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (BA-Comparative Literature) and Hunter College (MS-Urban Affairs), he is marrying his fiancée, Elzbieta, in September.

Issues/Platforms: For two decades, Graziano has tirelessly protected the 19th Council District from overdevelopment, including successfully downzoning every neighborhood; creating the R2A “anti-McMansion” zone; placing 1,330 buildings in Broadway-Flushing on the National Register of Historic Places; getting Douglaston Hill and the Schleicher and Ginsburg mansions landmark designation; and helping win the fight to turn Fort Totten into a public park and historic district when it was slated to be sold to developers.

Graziano’s work also focuses on education reforms, including ending mayoral control of the Department of Education, replacing top-down “Teaching to the Test” decision-making with local teachers and parents deciding their children’s future; reinstituting art, music, after-school activities and tutoring; protesting against the DOE’s proposed school facility at Keil Brother’s on 48th Avenue in July; and standing in solidarity with teachers, parents and students against an abusive principal at P.S. 29 in August.

Name: Austin Shafran

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Full-time candidate for City Council

Personal Info: Austin Shafran was born and raised in Bayside, where committed to public service, he worked tirelessly for CongressmemberGary Ackerman and then for Governor Andrew Cuomo to deliver a better and brighter future for the northeast Queens neighborhoods he is proud to call home. Whether it was playing for award-winning local little leagues or helping countless families access vital services, Shafran’s connection and commitment to his neighborhoods is deep and sincere. He said he would fight harder than anyone to clean up corruption, give schools the support they need, and make sure families and seniors can afford to stay in our neighborhoods.

Issues/Platforms: As councilmember, Shafran will cut property taxes and water rates for homeowners, co-ops and condo owners and reduce income taxes for middle class families; provide more funding for senior services; improve schools by reducing class sizes, stop high-stakes testing and increase input for parents and educators; crack down on unscrupulous developers threatening neighborhoods and ban outside employment for councilmembers to stand up to the special interests and put our community first.

Name: Paul Vallone

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Attorney

Personal Info: Paul Vallone is the managing partner of the family law firm of Vallone & Vallone. He currently serves as president of the Clinton Democratic Club, immediate past president and founding member of the Bayside-Whitestone Lions Club and board member of Community Board 7. Vallone also serves as counsel and board member to the Auburndale Soccer Club and was previously appointed to serve as a board member to the New York City Board of Corrections. Vallone and his wife, Anna-Marie, live in Flushing with their three children Catena, Lea and Charlie.

Issues/Platforms: Vallone is running to restore honest and effective Democratic leadership to the 19th City Council seat. His top priorities include putting more cops on the street, standing with other small business owners against unfair regulations and crushing fines, keeping schools the best in the city, preserving the residential character of neighborhoods, combating the incessant airplane noise pollution plaguing neighborhoods and ensuring that northeast Queens finally gets its fair share from City Hall. Vallone has been endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Party, Congressmember Grace Meng, Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, Senator Toby Stavisky, Assemblymember Ron Kim, Assemblymember Mike Simanowitz and former City Council Candidates Kevin Kim and Jerry Iannece.

Name: Chrissy Voskerichian

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Civic leader, 109th  Precinct Council President

Personal Info: Voskerichian started working when she was just 16 years old. She moved through the ranks of the telecommunications industry, retiring after 31 years as director of Global Sales & Operations for one of the largest firms in the world to focus more on her neighborhood. She founded the Station Road Civic Association and in 2009 was elected president of the 109th Precinct Community Council where she has worked hard to create a partnership between the NYPD and the community. She served as chief of staff for the District 19 City Council office.

Issues/Platforms: Voskerichian’s main priority is to protect the quality of life in northeast Queens and ensure that public safety is never compromised. She believes the city must give police officers and firefighters the tools they need to do their jobs. Voskerichian also stresses the need to support teachers by building new schools to reduce class sizes and giving kids a head start with free Universal Pre-K for every child. Finally, she promises to make constituent services a focus of her office. She will use her knowledge and experience to have a fully functional office capable of helping everyone and improving the community she calls home.




Public advocate primary guide

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

public advocate primary

As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the public advocate primary candidates, who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: Cathy Guerriero

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Professor of education and politics at Teachers’ College, Columbia University and the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University

Personal Info: Cathy Guerriero served as director of Government Relations for Catholic Charities and director of Strategic Planning for the Archdiocese of New York. As associate director, Guerriero coordinated Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit. Previously, she worked as a strategic planner for non-profits and small businesses. Guerriero graduated from Wagner College and obtained an MPA and a doctorate in educational administration from NYU.

Issues/Platforms: Our city faces key challenges. Unemployment is unbearable. People are losing their homes. The strength of our schools is at stake. Businesses are overwhelmed by paperwork. We are losing confidence in our leaders. Guerriero is running to give voice to everyone from each of our boroughs, from the threatened middle class to the most vulnerable New Yorkers – the poor, the newly arrived. The voices of all New Yorkers matter and Guerriero will make sure that they are heard so they all get the city services they deserve. That’s why she is the most endorsed candidate in the race, with support from faith leaders, law enforcement, firefighters and school employees – the people who build and serve our city.

Name: Letitia James

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: New York City Councilmember, 35th District

Personal Info: Councilmember Letitia “Tish” James was born and raised in Brooklyn. After graduating from Howard University, James began her career in public service, starting as a public defender with the Legal Aid Society. She later served as an Assistant Attorney General for New York State and was elected to the City Council in 2003.

Issues/Platforms: As Public Advocate, James wants to expand the office by creating a Citywide Advocates Network, Crisis Intervention Center, Parental Education and Empowerment Program, Cyber Awareness and Protection Unit, Immigrant Support Unit, and a Public Advocate at “Your Doorstep Initiative.” James will stand up for poor people and working families who are being squeezed out of the city. She will fight for women’s rights and immigrants’ rights. She will take on power interests on behalf of everyday New Yorkers. She will keep fighting to reform stop and frisk and end racial profiling. James has done all of these things throughout her public service career and will continue to do so. She will continue to be the fighter for all New Yorkers as NYC Public Advocate.

Name: Reshma Saujani

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Former Deputy Public Advocate; Founder of Girls Who Code

Personal Info: Reshma Saujani is the daughter of immigrant refugees who grew up in a middle class home where her parents struggled to make ends meet. Since then, Saujani has dedicated her life to public service and standing up for our most vulnerable. She previously served as Deputy Public Advocate and founded the national non-profit Girls Who Code to teach teenage girls, many from Queens, the skills to get jobs in technology.

Issues/Platforms: Saujani is running to create more opportunity for all New Yorkers at a time when the American Dream seems continually harder to realize. She is not a product of the corrupt culture of Albany or City Hall, but rather an independent voice who knows how to use the office of Public Advocate to find real solutions to real problems. Saujani has also been a lifelong advocate for women and communities of color, and she will continue to fight for equal treatment and to end racist practices like stop-and-frisk. She will fight to ensure that the opportunities that this city has given to so many, including herself, are available for every New Yorker.

Name: Daniel Squadron

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: State Senator (Brooklyn/Manhattan)

Personal Info: Daniel Squadron is a lifelong New Yorker. First elected to the State Senate in 2008, Squadron unseated a 30-year incumbent in a grassroots campaign for change and has gotten results as a progressive reformer.

Squadron’s dedication to public service began at an early age. His grandfather came through Ellis Island and his father, Howard Squadron, rose through poverty to become the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Squadron now lives with his wife and son in Brooklyn.

Platform/Issues: Squadron has a proven track record of getting results for everyday New Yorkers — fighting corruption in Albany, writing landmark new gun laws and advocating for affordable housing, parks and public transportation. He has a plan to make the public advocate’s office more effective for children, seniors and regular families who need a voice in City Hall.

Squadron has been endorsed by New Yorkers across the city, including U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, both former Public Advocates Mark Green and Betsy Gotbaum and Queens leaders like Senators Joe Addabbo, Tony Avella, Michael Gianaris and Jose Peralta and Assemblymembers Phil Goldfeder and Nily Rozic.





Comptroller primary guide

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo/Photo courtesy of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's Flickr

As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the city comptroller primary candidates, who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: Eliot Spitzer

Party: Democrat

Current Position:  Former New York Governor

Personal Information: Eliot Spitzer began as a prosecutor of organized crime before becoming New York State attorney general in 1998. During his time as attorney general, Spitzer cracked down on the largest firms on Wall Street. In 2006, Spitzer became governor where he helped fully fund New York City schools and reformed state health care delivery to guarantee larger access for working families.

Issues/Platform: As attorney general and governor, Spitzer held Wall Street, big corporations, government and special interests accountable for their actions.  He hopes to continue doing the same as comptroller.


Name: Scott Stringer

Party: Democrat

Current Position: Manhattan Borough President

Personal Information: Born and raised in Washington Heights, Scott Stringer graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 1992, he was elected into the New York State Assembly, representing Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In 2006, he became Manhattan Borough President where he has raised concern on issues ranging from government waste and mismanagement to creating economic opportunity for New York’s middle class. Stringer has also worked hard for equal rights and opportunities for all New Yorkers. He was one of the first co-sponsors of a 1995 bill to provide marriage equality, he passed landmark legislation protecting victims of domestic violence and helped establish a Manhattan Family Justice Center.  Stringer’s Bank On program helped more than 12,000 “unbanked” people in Manhattan sign up for bank accounts and participate in the city’s economy.

Issues/Platform: According to Stringer, in order for our economy to grow, the city must have a five borough transportation plan to connect residents to developing jobs and housing centers. Stringer has also outlined a plan to create a New York City infrastructure bank for mass transit in order to put the MTA on a stronger financial ground and allow capital projects to expand and update the area’s massive transportation network. He has promoted the integrity and professionalism of the pension fund and has worked to create more comprehensive risk assessment and management and further diversify pension investments to ensure the fund’s long term sustainability.  Scott has also created initiatives to promote greater transparency and accountability in the City budget process and to give New Yorkers a stronger voice in how government spends their tax dollars.

Editor’s Note: Requests for information from the candidates’ campaigns were not received as of press time, therefore this information was retrieved from the candidates’ campaign websites



Queens borough president primary guide

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the Queens borough president primary candidates, who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: Everly Brown

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Real Estate Developer, Foreclosure Consultant

Personal Info: Everly Brown was born in Jamaica and has been a Queens resident for 47 years. He has been a community activist for more than 30 years and has attended St. Francis College: BA, Washington Business Institute: AAS, St. John’s University: Basic Real Estate law.

Issues/Platforms: Key Issues: Jobs, Education, Affordable housing, Advocacy, Equality, Transparency in Government, Transportation, Public Safety and Participatory Democracy.

Platform: Reform Ballot Initiative, so that democracy can be streamlined.

Name: Melinda Katz

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Attorney, formerly of Greenberg Traurig

Personal Info: Melinda Katz has been a tireless advocate for Queens and a trusted public servant for 20 years, serving as a member of the New York City Council, New York State Assembly and director of community boards for former Borough President Claire Schulman. As a legislator, Katz focused on affordable housing, improving schools and expanding healthcare services by passing the first law in the country to require HMOs to cover OBGYN services. A lifelong resident of Queens, Katz is a product of public schools. She attended college at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and St. John’s University School of Law. Currently, Katz and her family are raising their two children, Carter and Hunter, in the house where she grew up.

Issues/Platforms: As borough president, Katz will work with all communities to expand access to health care, create affordable housing and stimulate economic development across Queens. To relieve overcrowding in Queens’ nine remaining hospitals, Katz has called for the opening of primary and urgent care facilities throughout the borough. To attract and strengthen local business, Katz will work with partners in government to expand tax incentives for new or expanding businesses who hire locally.

Name: Peter F. Vallone Jr.

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: City Councilmember, Public Safety Committee Chair

Personal Info: Father of two girls; former prosecutor; graduate of Fordham College and Fordham Law School

Issues/Platforms: For 12 years, Peter F. Vallone Jr. has served in the New York City Council. As the head of public safety committee, he worked with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to cut crime by 35 percent. He also worked tirelessly to pass tough laws on graffiti vandals, sex offenders and gun traffickers.

As a homeowner, Vallone also knows how tough it is to own a home in Queens. That’s why he is the ONLY candidate who voted against raising property taxes and fought water rate increases.

Vallone is also a small business owner. Small businesses in Queens are the backbone of the borough, which is why he worked to reduce unnecessary regulations and replace some fines with warnings so they can continue to thrive and drive the economy.

As the father of two girls who went to public schools, Vallone knows the importance of a safe learning environment. He wrote the law to put security cameras in schools and sponsored legislation to allow our kids to carry cells phones to and from school to ensure their safety.

 *NOTE: Despite the fact that State Senator Tony Avella announced he was dropping out of the Queens borough president race on August 14, his name will still be on the ballot during the September 10 primary election.



Courier hosts Focus on Queens Forum with BP, public advocate, comptroller candidates

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The Queens Courier held the Focus on Queens Forum at the North Shore Towers on Wednesday, August 21. Borough President, City Comptroller and Public Advocate candidates from various parties attended and spoke on their ideas for the future of their respective offices.

“Too often, people vote right down the Democratic line on the ballot,” said Bob Ricken, Towers’ Board President. “This gives residents an opportunity to get to know the candidates.”

Felice Hannah, board member and chair of the Political Action Committee, organized the event with nearly every candidate for each office.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., Melinda Katz and Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio came out for Borough President. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, John Burnett and Hesham El Meligy for Comptroller, and Cathy Guerriero, Letitia James, Reshma Saujani, Daniel Squadron and Sidique Wai for Public Advocate.


BP candidates address Queens-centric issues

Queens Borough President candidates continue to push through campaign season and participated in the Focus on Queens Forum at the North Shore Towers.

The three candidates were asked various borough-centric questions by moderator and NY1 anchor Tamani Wooley.

Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio came out as the sole Republican candidate and first discussed his history as a businessman, currently working with North Shore LIJ Hospital.

“I thought it was important for the Republican Party to have a voice,” he said.
Democrat Melinda Katz, former assemblymember and city councilmember, said Queens needs a borough president who can “bring equity to this borough.”

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. said he has spent his life “protecting Queens” and will be the “independent Democratic voice for you.”

Proposals currently floating around the borough were first addressed, namely the United States Tennis Association (USTA) development in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park; a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium also in the park; and redeveloping Willets Point.

All candidates agreed that first and foremost, parkland needs to be protected.

“I will fight to get money from private companies that make money off of our public spaces,” Arcabascio said.
All candidates support a soccer stadium in Queens.

Katz supports the Willets Point redevelopment and said “hopefully in January we’ll be able to take a fresh look and put a shovel in that ground.” Vallone said we need development there, but he doesn’t support the current plan, and Arcabascio doesn’t think Willets Point is a good site for the project.

Regarding hospitals and health care, all candidates agreed there should be more emergency care, multi-specialty facilities throughout the borough, and that hospital emergency rooms should not be the first go-to place.

“I do believe we need to take a lot of the pressure off of the existing emergency rooms,” Katz said.

Vallone added that if elected he would work with the district attorney and attorney general to reduce fraud and in turn give hospitals the funding needed to stay open.

Next, Wooley, as moderator, brought up the controversial Community Safety Act. Katz supports the bill that would reform the practice.

Vallone said when the bill takes effect, “judges will take over the NYPD.”

“Then we will turn into Detroit,” he said, and called the bill the “most dangerous in the history of New York City.”

Arcabascio took a similar stance and said you “can’t ask the Police Department to not stop someone based on your instinct as a trained police officer.”

During the September 10 primary, voters can decide between Democratic candidates Katz, Vallone or Everly Brown, not present at the forum. Then the Democratic or Republican candidate in the general election on November 5.


Public Advocate candidates take the stage

All five Democratic candidates for Public Advocate came to the North Shore Towers to participate in the Focus on Queens Forum.

“People in our city are really suffering,” said Reshma Saujani, current Deputy Public Advocate and recipient of the Queens Democratic Party’s endorsement.

Candidates were each given the opportunity to answer questions by moderator Tamani Wooley of NY1. First, the five answered what sort of legislation they would first propose upon entering office.

Letitia James, a Brooklyn city councilmember and former assistant attorney general, said she would focus on affordable housing, as well as putting a cap on co-op and condo taxes.

Brooklyn State Senator Daniel Squadron said he would create new partnerships for local community education councils, because parent groups need a partnership outside of bureaucracy, while Cathy Guerriero, educator, said she would expand her staff and “put a think tank into the office.”

Saujani, similarly, said she would instate four deputy public advocates for jobs, housing, education, and women and seniors. Sidique Wai, a civilian member of the NYPD, wants to help reform stop-and-frisk and be sure police officers wear cameras on their person.

Wooley then brought up the low grades the city school system just received, and questioned the candidates as to how they would work to improve education.

Guerriero, who has an extensive education background and comes from a family of teachers, said first the mayor should prioritize schooling in the city, and Wai said subjects such as science, math, engineering and math should start at the kindergarten level.

“If you don’t invest in children earlier on and train them to be able to compete for those jobs that are now fast going into the technological field, it’s just not going to work,” he said.

Squadron said schools should become an anchor for students, especially during trying times. He hopes to oversee a different approach to teaching special needs and ESL children as well as give parents a stronger voice.

“We have turned schools into test preps we have taken our tax dollars and invested more in technology than teachers, respecting teachers and reducing classroom size,” James said, who hopes to promote art and physical education courses.

Saujani noted her computer science program for young girls, Girls Who Code, and believes computer science education should be taught in every single high school.

“This job has a vital role to play in a city our size,” Squadron said in closing. “They can make a real difference in people’s lives by focusing on things within its scope and within its power.”
Guerriero said she’s the candidate to “come at your straight, not at angles.”

“I run against a set of politicians. I’m not one. That’s kind of the point,” she said.

James, however, said she recognizes the power of government and knows how to work through it.

“This office has got to do something,” Saujani said. “It’s got to change people’s lives; it’s got to create something.”


Comptroller candidates outline plans

Candidates for City Comptroller joined the Focus on Queens Forum at the North Shore Towers and detailed ways they would approach office as the city’s chief financial advisor.

“The economy of the city is going to rest on places like Queens,” said Scott Stringer, Democratic candidate and Manhattan Borough President, at the forum on Wednesday, August 21.

As Comptroller, Stringer said he would put all contracts and subcontracts online for citizens to see.

“It’s time to end this whole notion that the budget is too complicated for New Yorkers to understand,” he said.

Among other ideas, he made note that if elected, he would bring in community people of expertise in a specific area who would review city contract applications, such as seniors and senior housing.

Stringer said he has two skill sets for the job: “somebody who has been able to work collaboratively to get real things accomplished,” as well as being “fiercely independent” in order to hold city agencies accountable.

“You have to root out waste,” he said.

John Burnett, Republican candidate with a heavy financial background, also attended and spoke about various ideas such as unifying the current five-pension system in city finances.

“It’s five redundant costs,” he said. “Each time the pension fund doesn’t earn its discount rate, we have to cut a check with taxpayer money to find it.”

Burnett, who has a 23 years of Wall Street experience at companies such as Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch, said he has the understanding of investments in order to manage the $70 billion annual city budget.

“You have to know how to audit and hold people accountable with respect to the budget,” he said.

Hesham El Meligy is the only Libertarian candidate and also the only accountant, he said. As Comptroller, he would continue current Comptroller John Liu’s participatory budgeting layout as well as take a second look at the MTA, following Liu’s initial audit of the transportation agency.

“It’s taking a look at how the city works,” he said. “The structure of the city itself leads to a lot of waste. We need to put resources in other parts to serve the people better.”

Eliot Spitzer, Democratic candidate, declined to attend the event.



Endorsement roundup

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Christine Quinn was endorsed by the New York Daily News, the New York Times and the New York Post.

Joe Lhota was endorsed by the New York Times, New York Post and The Sephardic Community Federation for the Republican primary.

Bill Thompson was endorsed by Assemblymember Dov Hikind, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, and Councilmembers Robert Jackson and Erik Dilan.

Bill de Blasio was endorsed by Councilmember Brad Lander, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, the New York State Nurses Association, the New York Metro Area Postal Workers Union, the National Doctors Alliance and Local One of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

The Sierra Club endorsed John Liu.


Daniel Squadron was endorsed by the New York Times, State Senator Tony Avella, Assemblymember Gabriela Rosa, Citizens Union, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez.


Eliot Spitzer was endorsed by the Queens Chronicle.

The New York League of Conservation Voters endorsed Scott Stringer.


Melinda Katz was endorsed by the New York Times, New York City Central Labor Council and NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

Peter Vallone Jr. was endorsed by The Queens Ledger.


The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and Uniformed Fire Officers Association endorsed Paul Vallone for District 19.



Endorsement roundup

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Bill de Blasio received endorsements from The Nation magazine, the New York State Association of Letter Carriers, Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802, Doctors Council SEIU, Rev. Michael Waldrond, Jr., Assemblymember Joan Millman, Councilmember Vincent Gentile and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

The New York City League of Conservation Voters and Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg endorsed Christine Quinn.

The Caribbean American Community endorsed Bill Thompson.


Scott Stringer was endorsed by the New York Daily News, the New York Post and the New York Times.


Cathy Guerriero received endorsements from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association Uniformed EMTs Paramedics, Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507, the Uniformed EMS Officers Union FDNY Local 3621, Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood and Local 372, which represents parent coordinators, crossing guards and other school aides.

The New York League of Conservation Voters and Congressmember Yvette Clarke endorsed Letitia James.


The Small Business Coalition endorsed Rory Lancman for District 24 and Eric Ulrich for District 32.

Former council candidate Kevin Kim endorsed his former rival Paul Vallone for District 19.

Former Councilmember Julia Harrison endorsed Chrissy Voskerichian for District 19.

The New York League of Conservation Voters endorsed Manuel Caughman for District 27.


Councilmember Leroy Comrie, 1199 SEIU and the Planned Parenthood of New York City Political Committee endorsed Melinda Katz.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and MTA Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association endorsed Peter Vallone, Jr.



Candidates vie for votes in Councilmember Halloran’s district

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The six candidates vying to replace scandal-scarred Councilmember Dan Halloran mapped out ways they would bring integrity back to the seat at a Flushing forum last week.

“There is such anger, and it’s justified,” said Paul Vallone at a forum hosted by the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “We need to reclaim our local council office. It’s been an embarrassment and it has hurt our entire district.”

Halloran pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges for his alleged hand in bribing GOP officials to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the Republican mayoral ticket.

He said he would not seek re-election this year, which leaves the District 19 seat open to be claimed by Chrissy Voskerichian, Austin Shafran, John Duane, Paul Graziano, Vallone or lone Republican contender Dennis Saffran.

Voskerichian, who quit her job as Halloran’s chief of staff shortly after his arrest, said she was “not going to apologize for being there.”

“I did work for Dan Halloran. I think I did a very good job,” she said. “I was disappointed and upset about what happened. If I didn’t have those three years in office, I probably would not be running for the city council today.”

Pitching ways to bring more transparency to the office, Shafran said councilmembers should ban outside employment and income, while Duane pledged to post all meetings on his website.

“You’re paying my salary. You’re the taxpayer,” Duane said. “You deserve to know exactly what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with.”

Graziano, who pushed for full public financial disclosures, said candidates should not accept money from real estate developers or lobbyists.

He, Voskerichian, Vallone and Shafran also want to eliminate the City Council Speaker’s power to allocate discretionary funds in order for each district to get its fair share.

“Discretionary funding should be per capita and not delivered by the Speaker as a favor or a reward for voting or not voting a certain way,” Voskerichian said.

Saffran said any legislator under indictment for public corruption should be suspended.

“Dan Halloran should not be receiving a public paycheck right now. It’s outrageous that he is,” he said.

Five of the six candidates then fielded preservation and storm readiness questions at a Bayside debate hosted by the Bayside Historical Society this week.

Most agreed the city should put power lines underground and do more to maintain older city trees that have become deadly.

Shafran said he supports requiring backup generators at gas stations and proposed mandating Con Ed to work with the city on storm plans.

Vallone, who did not show up, was comforting the family of his “good friend and mentor” Judge Joseph Risi, who had just passed away, a campaign spokesperson said.

His absence prompted contention from some of his rivals, who claimed he was dodging the debate purposefully due to a poor performance with the historic host group in 2009.

Graziano, at the end of the night, addressed the “deafening silence at the far end of the table” where Vallone’s namecard accompanied his empty seat.

“He didn’t have the courtesy to show up tonight,” Graziano said.

The candidates will debate for the last time before the September 10 primary at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center on August 27 at 7 p.m.



Endorsement roundup

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


The Nation magazine, New York State Association of Letter Carriers, Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802, Rev. Michael Waldrond, Jr. and Assemblymember Joan Millman endorsed Bill de Blasio.

The New York City League of Conservation Voters endorsed Christine Quinn.


The Uniformed EMTs Paramedics, Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507, the Uniformed EMS Officers Union FDNY Local 3621, and Local 372, which represents parent coordinators, crossing guards and other school aides, endorsed Cathy Guerriero.

The New York League of Conservation Voters endorsed Letitia James.


The Small Business Coalition endorsed Rory Lancman for District 24 and Eric Ulrich for District 32.

Former council candidate Kevin Kim endorsed his former rival Paul Vallone for District 19.

Former Councilmember Julia Harrison endorsed Chrissy Voskerichian for District 19.


Councilmember Leroy Comrie and The Planned Parenthood of New York City Political Committee endorsed Melinda Katz.

The MTA Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association endorsed Peter Vallone, Jr.



Endorsement roundup

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Philanthropist George Soros and State Senator Liz Krueger endorsed Bill de Blasio.

Sandra Fluke, a women’s rights activist, endorsed Christine Quinn.


The Reverend Floyd Flake, the New York City Police Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association endorsed Cathy Guerriero.
El Diario and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union endorsed Letitia James.

Empire State Pride Agenda endorsed Daniel Squadron.


Councilmember Leroy Comrie, NYC Council Progressive Caucus and NYC Communities for Change endorsed Daneek Miller for District 27.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union endorsed Austin Shafran for District 19.



City Council District 24 candidate Andrea Veras kicks off campaign

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Andrea Veras

City Council candidate Andrea Veras kicked off her campaign with dozens of supporters on August 3.

The Briarwood activist and paralegal is vying to replace term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in the 24th District, which stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

“Improving the living conditions of my community has always been my passion,” Veras said, “and I want to bring a fresh perspective to city management, transparency and leadership to all the communities comprised in District 24.”

Veras, a single mother of three, immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1990.

She said she wants to get youngsters interested in their education and community events and create affordable housing and healthcare programs.

Veras will run against former Assemblymember Rory Lancman and Mujib Rahman in the Democratic primary on September 10. The winner will face off with Republican candidate Alex Blishteyn in the general election.



Endorsement roundup

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

More than 50 city clergy leaders endorsed John Liu.

Tenants PAC, civil rights activist Harry Belafonte and Congressmember Yvette Clarke endorsed Bill de Blasio.

Former comptrollers Carl McCall, Elizabeth Holtzman and Harrison Golde endorsed Scott Stringer.

DC 37’s Local 1407 and the Women’s Campaign Fund endorsed Reshma Saujani.

Tenants PAC endorsed Letitia James.

Local 246 SEIU endorsed Cathy Guerriero.

Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund endorsed Rory Lancman for District 24.

Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece endorsed Paul Vallone for District 19.

UAW Region 9A endorsed John Duane for District 19.

DC 37 endorsed Donovan Richards for District 31.



Endorsement roundup

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


State Senator Bill Perkins endorsed Bill de Blasio.

The New York State Allied Printing Trades Council and AFSCME NY endorsed John Liu.

The New York City Department of Corrections Emerald Society endorsed Joe Lhota.

The Richmond Hill Democratic Club endorsed Bill Thompson.

Councilmember Donovan Richards endorsed Christine Quinn.


The National Organization for Women-NYC chapter, NARAL Pro-Choice New York and Planned Parenthood NY endorsed Scott Stringer.


The Richmond Hill Democratic Club and Doctors Council SEIU endorsed Reshma Saujani.


The Queens Unity Coalition endorsed Melinda Katz.



Campaign contributions filed

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The city’s Campaign Finance Board has posted the following filings for 2013 city and Queens races. Candidates collected these net contributions from May 12 to July 11. Disclosure statements were due July 15.


Adolfo Carrion, Jr.: $1,157,055
John Catsimatidis: $4,018,585
Bill de Blasio: $4,141,972
Joe Lhota: $1,798,839
John Liu: $3,389,446
Christine Quinn: $7,637,577
Bill Thompson, Jr.: $3,943,808
Anthony Weiner: $5,968,061
*candidates who raised above $1 million


Daniel Squadron: $1,401,242
Reshma Saujani: $1,305,612
Letitia James: $691,185
Cathy Guerriero: $227,552
Sidique Wai: $44,779


Scott Stringer: $3,680,289
Eliot Spitzer: unknown
John Burnett: $36,401
Kristin Davis: $391


Peter Vallone Jr.: $1,076,638
Melinda Katz: $658,653
Tony Avella: $70,773
Tony Arcabascio: $4,510


District 19
Austin Shafran: $100,762
Paul Vallone: $81,995
John Duane: $ 81,795
Dennis Saffran: $51,999
Paul Graziano: $23,308
Chrissy Voskerichian: $20,035

District 20
Peter Koo: $367,358
Sunny Hahn: $17,895
Evergreen Chou: $200

District 22
Costa Constantinides: $130,583
Constantinos Prentzas: $25,345
Lynne Serpe: $11,538
Daniel Peterson: $8,466
Danielle De Stefano: $7,021

District 23
Mark Weprin: $223,491

District 24
Rory Lancman: $117,799
Alexander Blishteyn: $17,371
Mujib Rahman: $14,195
Andrea Veras: $9,005

District 26
Jimmy Van Bramer: $144,955

District 27
Daneek Miller: $54,318
Clyde Vanel: $37,107
Manuel Caughman: $29,476
Gregory Mays: $10,635
Sondra Peeden: $5,753

District 28
Hettie Powell: $48,069
Ruben Wills: $37,815
David Kayode: $10,899
Christina Winslow: $2,644
Joseph Marthone: $1,261
Breina Payne: $900

District 29
Karen Koslowitz: $79,239
Jon Torodash: $1,890

District 30
Elizabeth Crowley: $160,263
Craig Caruana: $31,318

District 32
Eric Ulrich: $32,911
Lew Simon: $19,445
William Ruiz: $3,281